People often ask about the things I do in the parish. So I just provide here a little sampling of some of my work this last week.
The life of the parish priest isn’t mostly about conferring the sacraments. I wish it was, though. On Monday, I had to find out how the college ministry youth group is dealing with their fundraisers, a tri-tip dinner on Saturday and the sale of chocolate bars. They asked if the parish could loan them money for the chocolate fundraiser, which I said yes to. I had to make sure the swamp coolers in the hall weren’t leaking water, then I met with a contractor to get an estimate on air conditioning. He gave a $12,000 plus estimate, which is a fantastic price, and he’s a reputable contractor. But now I have to call together the finance council and see if they’ll approve of us taking that money from the savings account, instead of the Building Fund.
Monday evening was a rosary vigil for my dear friend, and Tuesday morning was her funeral. Tuesday afternoon involved meeting with the choir director to get a report on their Sunday picnic, which I missed, and to see what items they had left over, which can be given to the college kids for their dinner on Saturday. Then I supervised some high school kids who came to clean up around the parish. They said it was volunteer but I paid them, because it was hard work and I know they could all use spending money. They were so happy. Now they said they could afford to go see the Avengers. The diocesan properties department wanted to know how the repair was going on the bell in our tower. I said I don’t think it will be repaired in time to ring at the end of the Fortnight of Freedom, but they were pleased that the contractor had all the proper paperwork and permits. God forbid someone fall from our tower while repairing that bell.
Tuesday evening was a visit with a parishioner whose been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was given the anointing because she had an operation today which went well, thank God. Still, she is very depressed. It seems like the 10th woman in my parish diagnosed with cancer this year. Wednesday morning was spent shopping for groceries. I do my own shopping and cooking. And then I had laundry to do. On Wednesday afternoon, I drove out to a woman’s house who is in severe depression. We spent two hours with her, cheering her up as best we could, praying with her, hearing her confession, anointing her, and giving her resources and recommendations for people who could medically treat her and get her on the road to recovery. Just a lot of accumulated stress, poor thing. Later, I met with a man who needs spiritual counseling as part of his recovery from drinking, and he thanks be to God is coming along very well, spending lots of time with his family and giving more of himself to his marriage now that he doesn’t take off with his buddies drinking. In the evening, I spoke to a woman who is struggling with her non-Catholic husband, who I think is just stressed out. The good thing is that he seems to be turning to God more, and I have a hunch he will soon join RCIA. My last appointment was a couple that has been married 20 years and finally wants to have their marriage blessed in the church. They were a really sweet couple, and that was a lighthearted and nice visit, in between collecting documents and setting up future appointments for marriage prep.
Thursday was a day to confront an angry parishioner about the Fortnight of Freedom. He thinks the entire thing is a conspiracy of right-wing Catholics to get Obama defeated in the Fall. That was a fun chat, to say the least. I don’t think I completely persuaded him, but at least he seemed to calm down. Then I ran down to go see mom and dad, then dropped some papers at the chancery office, and even had time for a visit with some friends in Fresno. Priests have friends. In a way, all of our parishioners are our friends, but there are those special people who are very close friends, like family. Once in a while, we need to drop in on them because they keep us real, and they put a smile on our face because of the very close bond they share with us priests. Thursday wrapped up with a dinner with a parishioner who is almost 90 years old. I have such a great time visiting with him, and listening to his stories of growing up in Chicago in the 30’s and his experiences fighting during WWII. When I came back, I owed the charismatics a huge apology, as I had told them I would offer Mass for them, and forgot, but they know I’ll be there for their next meeting.
In between here and there, I sneak in time for prayer, time for reading, and time for tumblr. I wish I had more time for prayer, more time for spiritual reading, and more time for pastoral visits. Speaking of that, I’m going to go and say hello to my charismatics now that they have finished up their prayer meeting.